When using hand tools it is important to ensure the work is securely clamped or braced, so that it is not necessary for the tool user (or helper) hands to be close to where the tool action is taking place. It is also important that the work is up off the ground, so tools do not get damaged (by accidentally hitting stones in the earth) or endanger the feet of the tool user.

There are 3 key elements to consider when establishing a working stance and system for tool use:

  1. Safety – ensuring no part of the tool user (or any helper/s) is in the path of the tools cutting edge – including if the tool was to slip, drop or bounce.
  2. Stability – the work and the tool user should be in  a stable position. For example if someone or something was to bump against them by accident they should not be knocked off balance.
  3. Comfort – is the stance and set up comfortable to the tool user and are they able to maintain the position for an appropriate length of time without tiring or pain from bad posture. Work stations should be set to the height of the tool user (ie. An EY’s tool station is going to be lower than a teenagers!).

There are a variety of methods of securing work for different tasks:


Most often some sort of saw horse can be used – at its simplest this might be an ‘A frame’ – 2 poles driven into the ground and square lashed and then use helpers to hold the work straight whilst you saw. The ‘ears’ of the frame act as a barrier to the saw should it bounce towards the spare hand. The same affect could be replicated by using a nook or V in a tree if it happens to be at the right height for the saw user (should be about hip level).


You could improvise some sort of bench to use F or G clamps with to hold work firmly.

You could make a Louma Log Woodland Workbench. Download a free instruction booklet on how to make and use one here

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